A new way to control insulin levels in the blood is being studied
This new approach to getting insulin to the bloodstream involves making a “fusion protein” that consists of multiple copies of a peptide[insulin controller] fused to a polymer that’s sensitive to body heat. This fusion molecule is an injectable liquid but it transforms into a “jelly” when injected under the skin. Enzymes in the skin then attack the injected drug depot and set free small doses of the peptide, providing a constant and controllable release of the drug over time.
Miriam Amiram, former Chilkoti graduate student and first author on the paper, calls the new delivery system POD: Protease-Operated Depot.
As per study published online in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers combined glucagon-like peptide-1 [GLP-1], a hormone that controls the release of insulin, with a genetically engineered heat-sensitive polymer to create the POD.
“Remarkably, a single injection of the GLP-1 POD was able to reduce blood glucose levels in mice for up to five days, which is 120 times longer than an injection of the peptide alone,” Chilkoti said. “For a patient with type 2 diabetes, it would be much more desirable to inject such a drug once a week or once a month rather than once or twice a day.
“Additionally, this approach avoids the peaks and valleys of drug concentrations that these patients often experience,” Chilkoti said.
Such PODs are easy to manufacture.
“This new delivery system provides the first entirely genetically encoded alternative to peptide drug encapsulation for sustained delivery of peptide drugs,” Chilkoti said.
Once this system of delivery becomes readily available, it should be a boon for a lot of diabetics the world over.
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